How Can I Get Medicare?

Medicare is a health insurance program that is administered through and paid for with Social Security taxes. To be eligible to receive Medicare you must be 65 years old or older and you must also have been a legal resident of the United States for at least 5 consecutive years. Medicare is also available to permanently disabled people who are younger than 65 and to people that have been diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) (kidney failure) or with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS also known as Lou Gehrig's disease).

Part A monthly premiums are waived provided you or your spouse worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. If you did not meet this requirement but you meet the basic eligibility requirements for Medicare you can still use Medicare but you will pay a premium for Part A in addition to the premiums required for Part B, Part D in Original Medicare and the premiums required for Part C (Medicare Advantage Plans).

Individuals who already receive Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) benefits will automatically be enrolled in Original Medicare Part A and Part B benefits when they turn 65. A Medicare card should arrive in the mail in addition to a Part B premium bill and an explanation of benefits. For people born on the first day of the month they will receive these documents one month prior to turning 65.

If you are still employed and want Medicare benefits you will need to sign up for Medicare. You have a seven month initial enrollment period to sign up for Medicare around your 65th birthday including three months before your birthday, your birthday month and three months after your birthday. You should sign up the first three months before your birthday to have coverage start the month you turn 65. Signing up during the last four months will result in your coverage being delayed by 1-3 months. Signing up after this initial 7-month period will result in late enrollment penalties unless you qualify for what is called Special enrollment.

Auntie Lou says, "Work hard and long your whole life and this is what you get???"

You should contact Social Security 3 months before you turn 65 to request enrollment and benefits.
Call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213.
If you are 65 or older and are eligible for Medicare benefits you can apply online at
Railroad retirees should call 1-877-772-5772.